Wednesday, April 17

Pakistan on brink of crisis as Imran Khan blocks no-confidence vote | imran khan

Pakistan was in constitutional crisis as fears of martial law swirled after the prime minister, Imran Khan, blocked a vote of no-confidence on his rule – despite a legally binding ruling by the supreme court that the vote must go ahead.

Khan, the former international cricketer turned pious Islamist politician, is clinging to his political career for dear life after he and his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party used various means – including filibustering and legal petitions – to prevent the no-confidence vote, which he was expected to lose, from going ahead.

Khan had tried to halt the vote a week ago by dissolving parliament before it could go ahead. But a damning verdict by Pakistan’s supreme court on Thursday found that the prime minister had broken the law and they called for a vote..

But over the course of 13 tumultuous hours until late into the night, members of Khan’s party prevented the vote going ahead. The opposition accused Khan of trying to hold the constitution and government “hostage” and commit treason. At one stage, the speaker, an ally of Khan, declared he would refuse to put the vote to parliament, despite this being in contempt of court.

The opposition claimed that Khan was refusing to let the vote go ahead unless he could get a guarantee that neither he nor his cabinet ministers would face criminal cases once they stepped down. Marriyam Aurangzeb, an opposition spokesperson, told the observer it was “a violation of the constitution and the supreme court’s order, and they should be ready for the consequences. It’s contempt of the court by Imran Khan and speaker and everyone involved.”

Also Read  Oligarch Roman Abramovich's $50 million Colorado mansion could become a sanctions target

As Khan held meetings with ministers and senior military figures yesterday, many feared that he would try to get Pakistan’s powerful army to step in and declare martial law rather than hand over power to the opposition. As fear of unrest grew, security was beefed up around the prime minister’s residence.

In response, Pakistan’s chief justice took the unprecedented step of asking the supreme court to be ready to open its doors at midnight, should the vote not happen. The Islamabad high court also prepared to hear a late-night contemplation of court case.

As the midnight deadline for the vote approached, Khwaja Asif, a leader from the opposition alliance, accused Khan’s government of trying to usurp democracy and “create an environment for martial law. They want the parliament dissolved”.

Last week’s no-confidence vote was tabled by the opposition in the midst of an economic crisis that has pummeled Khan’s popularity. Khan shocked the opposition by instructing the deputy speaker of the house, to close ally, to throw out the vote on the basis of unsubstantiated allegations that it was the result of a “foreign conspiracy” to unseat him.

Security personnel stand guard outside the Parliament House building in Islamabad on Saturday. Photograph: Aamir Qureshi/AFP/Getty Images

Khan then instructed the president, another ally, to dissolve parliament and announced fresh elections would happen within three months. He defended the move as an attempt to protect Pakistan from a western- and specifically US-led conspiracy to interfere in its affairs.

The opposition described it as a “civilian coup” and a treasonous attempt by Khan to cling to power despite losing his majority. They appealed to the supreme court, which ultimately overturned Khan’s move.

Also Read  Two Heads by Uta Frith, Chris Frith, Alex Frith and Daniel Locke – review | Comics and graphic novels

The no-confidence vote was expected to lead the way for a new opposition coalition government, with the leader of the opposition, Shahbaz Sharif, the brother of the jailed former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, as interim prime minister. The opposition has stated its intention to hold elections, likely to be October at the earliest.

Despite many suggesting he might resign rather than face the humiliation of a defeat in parliament, in a late night address to the nation, Khan made it clear he had no intention of stepping aside voluntarily. He called for his supporters to take to the streets in mass protest and said he would not accept any “imported” government, a veiled reference to his previous allegations that the political opposition had conspired with western powers to topple him, to charge them deny.

“What is happening with our democracy is catastrophic,” Khan said in his speech. Khan, once a national cricketing hero and international playboy, was elected in 2018 as the “modern” face of Pakistan, who had the backing of the military and promised economic prosperity and an end to corruption. But his time in office has been blighted by economic crisis, including record inflation. He had also been seen to pander to militant Islamic groups, and during his time in office religious violence and public lynchings of those accused of blasphemy were on the rise.

Nonetheless Khan still commands fierce among his many supporters and is expected to contest the next elections. In a Twitter post following the supreme court ruling, Khan wrote: “My message to our nation is I have always and will continue to fight for Pak till the last ball.”

Also Read  Rusia dice ahora que lucha en Ucrania "para poner fin al dominio mundial de EEUU"

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *